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The Edison Local School District is extending its mask mandate for the time being as COVID cases continue to mount in the area.

   The school board held two sessions Wednesday in the district office at Stanton Elementary School, with one to organize the panel and district affairs and a regular meeting to take action on a variety of other business. Aaron Richardson remained board president for 2022 while Ron Smyth was elected vice president and Lisa Bruzzese continued as treasurer. The oath of office was also administered to newcomer Anna Ault during the organizational meeting and leaders approved operational authorizations and board committees, among related matters.

   But the mask mandate led discussion at the following regular session and Superintendent Bill Beattie sought to continue the policy to Jan. 28. He cited 14 positive cases between staff and students but said numbers have been lower than in other districts.

   “I would like to at least extend it to Jan. 28. We were first to get [COVID] in the fall and it’s a matter of time before it hits us,” he added.

   “Your end result was to keep kids in school,” Smyth commented.

   “Our goal is not to end COVID; our goal is to keep kids in school,” Bordash interjected.

   “It’s expected to peak nationally at the end of January and there were 400 cases [countywide] over the last seven days,” Beattie said. “We’ll do a one-call to extend it to the 28th.”

   Building projects also topped talks and Beattie said the new school gym could be ready this spring. He said a tentative date has been slated for March 24 and projects are continuing to bring the plan to fruition.

   “They are due to start getting the floor in the second week of February and they started spraying the ceiling,” he added. “It’s getting there.”

   Beattie said framing work and windows were also underway in the hospitality suite while Smyth said officials should look at repairing or removing a mural of the three schools. Leaders discussed repairing the artwork and getting an artist to do the project, plus they hoped to have the project done in time for the start of the football season. Leaders also addressed progress at the new bus garage less than a mile from Edison High School, saying framing, septic and other work was underway at the site.

  Among other matters, the board:

–Assistant Superintendent Julie Kireta said she has been in discussion with a representative at the Ohio Department of Education about offering Ag science courses at EHS to obtain credits toward graduation. Plans are very preliminary but Kireta said it offers a hands-on opportunity for students and may also benefit the Ag program;

–Heard from Richardson, who sought to hold a brainstorming session regarding the district’s strategic plan. Richardson was seeking ideas on where to take the district in the future through building projects, academics and other pathways. The board agreed to meet on Feb. 24 at 7 p.m. at the district office at Stanton and the public is invited to attend;

–Discussed ways to support school faculty and staff as they continue to deal with the stresses of working through COVID. Richardson said he wanted to make sure they received the support they needed and pondered surveying them to obtain ideas;

–Approved certified substitutes Trey Jeter and Mindy Madzia;

–Accepted the resignation of Dawn Cable as junior high track coach and also approved supplemental contracts for Cable and Nick Angelini as track assistants;

–Agreed to participate in the Ohio School Boards Association’s Legal Assistance Fund and renewed membership with OSBA for 2022;

–Observed School Board Recognition Month for January and members received certificates in appreciation of their service;

–Set the next regular meeting for Feb. 17 at 6 p.m. at Stanton.